It was clutch pitching and timely hitting that paced the Riverside City College Tigers baseball squad on Tuesday evening in a non-conference contest against the West Los Angeles College Wildcats at Evans Sports Complex. Despite committing four errors that put them in a tough bind, the Tigers remained composed highlighted by a four-run seventh inning paired with a steady bullpen en route to an 8-6 win.
The Tigers had no issues jumping on the board in the bottom of the second inning despite allowing the Wildcats to tack on an early run in the top of the first inning. Sophomore catcher Andrew Jurado (Riverside, CA) barreled a two-out, two-RBI double to score sophomore shortstop Shane Martinez (Riverside, CA) and sophomore designated hitter Daniel Martinez (Riverside, CA). D. Martinez followed the next inning with an RBI single through the ride side to score freshman second baseman Jacob Rodriguez (Walnut, CA) to grab a 3-1 lead.
However, West LA followed with five runs in the following three innings to face the Tigers with a tough deficit.
Despite trailing by three, freshman reliever Michael Coppens (Fullerton, CA) kept the Tigers within striking distance after entering into the game in the top of the fifth inning and blanked the Wildcats through three innings.
Riverside fed off of the strong appearance and exploded for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Tigers found themselves with the bases loaded and nobody out. Rodriguez cashed in with a bases-juiced walk, backed by a sacrifice fly from S. Martinez. D. Martinez followed with a two-RBI double in the right-center gap to grab the lead at 8-6.
After Coppens worked into trouble in the top of the ninth, freshman closer Graham Kuck (Corona, CA) entered into the game and slammed the door by not allowing a base runner en route to an 8-6 win.
Kuck earned his first-career save while fanning one batter. Coppens (1-0) pocketed the victory after tossing 3.2 innings and fanning three. Freshman starter Andrew Salazar (Ohmi, Japan) went 4.1 innings and allowed six runs – only four earned – while punching out six batters.
D. Martinez continued to cart a hot stick by going 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, three RBI, and a run scored.
The Tigers (5-1) will host the East Los Angeles Huskies on Friday, February 9th at 3 p.m. at Evans Sports Complex. Tune into www.rccathletics.com for live stats.